Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Stargazer Lily in Space"

"Stargazer Lily in Space"
Digital Art

I am exploring more and more my fascination with space, fantasy and surrealistic images. The photo above was originally a stargazer lily. It seems to be blowing healing energy or maybe love out into the world. It is no longer bound to earth, but has now entered higher spiritual realms. Yet, the flower sends its newly acquired spiritual knowledge back down to earthly dimensions. I wanted to express with my creativity that life is so much more than what we see with the ordinary eye. Our oneness with everything around us embraces connectivity, not separation. Dreamy possibilities of who we can become are really attainable if we stretch our perceived limits and step out of the box. The stargazer lily brings messages and gifts and my awareness of this opens up all my senses.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Memories of Love Never Fade

"Memories of Love Never Fade"
Digital Collage

"Memories of Love Never Fade"
Digital Collage

"Memories of Love Never Fade"
Digital Collage

I'm dreaming, dreaming of Spring with sun shining down on me and boundless fields of flowers bobbing their heads up and down. Another holiday is looming on the horizon, though, Valentine's Day, bringing with it lots of hearts and love and flowers, especially roses. As my own heart seems to opening up more and more in my creative journey, I thought an image such as the one above would honor my own self in the process. And yesterday was my Mom's birthday, so this piece I create in her honor as well. Although she has not been on this earthly plane for 10 years now, I think of her with love every day. I hope my mother can smell the heady perfumes of the rose and hear the bird chirping in song and feel the love transported from the image here to the heavens above. I can keep her memory alive with my own creative process, and am thankful I have this gift to utilize in such a profound way.
Yes, this is a very meaningful piece for me to share here in so many ways. I love birds and flowers, so putting them together into one piece satisfies me in a more complete way. Fantasies and dreams and childlike wonder embrace my artistic vision in recent days, so I infused those qualities into the pieces above. I have decided I, first and foremost, need to like what I am creating, so am not holding back with my feelings and emotions in the process. It's full steam ahead from now on. I played around with the images above, using a rose photo I took, a bird done in watercolor, and a collage I had made with hearts, stamps, and other assorted mediums. The colors all seemed to flow with each other, which I was pleased with. And I felt I tied in the love theme fairly well.
I experimented with tones and filters as well. I remember that incorporating warm and cool colors into a piece make it more interesting. The top and middle images have a brighter, more yellowish background, while the bottom one has a cooler, more bluish backdrop. The top image has been cropped even further on the left and right, cutting off to some extent the hearts to the left of the bird. I haven't decided which image I like better, but at this point I shall display all three of them here. I'd welcome your thoughts and comments on them.
I continue to enjoy collage and its experimental, fun loving approach really appeals to me. I have been reading collage books and watching other collage artists evolve in their work and filling my own creative well with ideas. I still do not know if I have a particular medium I am focusing on these days, so I will just flow with whatever grabs me at any particular moment!Loving the entire creative process from start to finish and staying in the now seems to be stirring up and exciting my inner child, so what more could I want?
So a whole gamut of emotions pour through me today. Joy, excitement, sadness, meloncholy all grapple for my attention. I hope I have given them each equal expression and thank my creative gifts for allowing this to happen. And remember, Mom, my love for you will never fade......

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sparrow Lifts My Spirits

"Sparrow Lifts My Spirits"
Digital Watercolor

I've been going through a gamut of emotions lately. The inauguration is tomorrow and there is hope and change in the air. I can feel the energy tingle like electricity. I have been feeling so good watching the festivities develop. Yet, a sense of inner turmoil descended on me today, bringing worry and fear. These emotions held me prisoner for awhile, twisting my stomach into knots. I could have sat with this mood, stewing and fretting, not taking action. But then this little sparrow bird caught my eye. It was an image I had started to work on and then set aside, forgetting about its presence as the world of busyness took over. Well, it seemed to call to me, to let me give it another chance, so I decided to bring it into my life. I had little energy left to do much else, so why not, I thought. I played with it on the computer, adding some fantasy stars and leaves, and felt my heart opening. My mood lightened considerably and playful spirits seemed to fill the computer screen. You can't see them, but they are there, frolicking in the sky and dancing on the branch. Yes, I do believe in the power of creativity. If my negative thinking and brooding cannot be changed by the use of positive affirmations, I turn to my creative self. I do have that choice, for sure. Habits take time to change, I know that, but somehow, creativity is like an instant fixer-upper to me. I notice the subtle shift almost immediately, and sink into its bliss. I so much liked how I felt, much less despondent, and wonder why I wait so long to turn to my creativity for relief. Well, nevertheless, I am so thankful I saw that bird on the branch chirping to me. Yes, we can, yes, you can, it seemed to be singing joyfully to me. Hm, maybe it will be in a bird chorus in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, perched in some tree. Well, wherever the feathered babe lands, the little creature gave me renewed hope for myself, for our country and for our world. We are all in this together, and we all matter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Angel Brings Reassurance

"Angel Embrace"
Digital Photograph

I am finding such delight in discovering new creative friends via the Internet. As I visit their sites, I am blown away and inspired by what they share, whether in words or visions. I am in the process of setting up links for them all, knowing that connection feels so good. I must admit I am rather surprised at my enthusiastic response to being part of the Internet community. But the comments that come back to me are worth their weight in Gold! One recent acquaintance, Linda, an exquisite artist and writer, posted her beautiful watercolors and then people commented on what they "saw" in the creation. I was fascinated by one person's comments about seeing a skull, for example. The artist herself then shared her own vision of what the creation meant to her. I find this so inspiring as I can so relate to this. I am always intrigued by what the observer gets out of my creations. It makes me wonder and I am delighted by their personal visions and perceptions.
Pulling this back to me, I have always loved taking flowers (and skulls-I have a cattle? skull hanging in my studio) and my Georgia O'Keefe (past life connection?) side of me is probably evident in this orchid flower close-up I took. Now why did I bring up Georgia O'Keefe? Because I love abstraction and mystery and zooming in on images, a trait O'Keefe utilizes as well. Now mind you, some viewers of Georgia's work say sexual tones came through in her work and I've spent many an hour seeing if I could see what they see. And now, when people say my work has an O'Keefe feel to it, I am flattered, yet, have slight misgivings due to the Georgia controversy. I am glad I am aware of my feelings, but I don't want to let it stop or hamper me in my journey. Comparing my work to the work of other artists can be detrimental to my process. I really am unique in who I am and must remember that. Yet, artists of the past and those of the present whom I now embrace, are still a necessary part of me now. As I write these last few sentences, I feel reassured, knowing that my awareness of myself is vital. I do know, however, that as I tap into deeper aspects of me, the dark and the light, and everything in between, will emerge if I allow it. I have always been intrigued by abstraction, which, when I do close-ups, seems to reveal itself to me. In the orchid photo above, I find myself seeing an angel, reaching down to embrace someone (me?) on the Earthly realm. Being an artist can be a lonely venture, so knowing I am not alone, even if on a spiritual level, helps. Originally, it was just an orchid photo amongst an entire family of these beautiful flowers. But, now, as I sit with the flower here today, even the lighting too seems to add an otherworldly realm to the image. Am I discounting any sexual images that may emerge in the orchid? Perhaps at this point, I am. But right now, just feeling the spirituality in one of my creations helps my lighter side come out and I feel safer. I guess it comes down to balance. I have always felt the healing benefit of being creative, but I more recently find myself connecting with my soul. Really, creativity and spirituality go hand in hand. I think in my earlier life, I disconnected or lost pieces of my soul, so I feel I am welcoming it back through my art process. Does this make sense?
I didn't think I'd get so lost in my musings here today, but feel better writing these words as a result. I do feel reassured by my creative path, though, wherever it leads me, and I welcome the angel who witnessed my words today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ice Festival Fires up my Creativity

Walrus Ice Sculpture

Some Kind of Cat? Sculpture

This past Sunday was the Frankfort Ice Festival. I grabbed my camera, put on about three layers of clothes, and roamed around. About 30 sculptures are displayed around the town and in the afternoon the ice sculptor man does a demo creation for the crowd. Lots of families, little tykes all bundled up, and many, many dogs of all shapes and sizes set the stage. Hot chocolate was available to warm the crowd-goer up and a wood-burning fire (artificial, unforunately) provided some heat on this cold, crisp day. Photo-shoot opportunities beckoned to me, so I put on my new fingerless gloves (which a photographer so embraces) and started clicking away.
Sometimes I get so in the zone that I almost bowl people over trying to get closer to the subject of interest. My husband, the voice of reason, usually talks to whoever is nearby, explaining that I am a picture nut, and love to take pictures of anything and everything. One lady nearby said, "That's so great that you love it so much". Yes, I do, and if I appear rude as I jostle for position, that's just my creative spirit fighting to make its presence known. My camera seems to have a mind of its own, pulling me along on its quest, like a dog pulling his master while on a walk.
Children and babies always make such wonderful subjects, in their colorful snow attire that jumps out against the white snowy background. I love to take photos of these cherubs, who do not hold back their joy and enthusiasm. Past experience, though, has made me more cautious and I pick and choose my subject. Parents can be a bit skeptical of my actions, and will ask what I am going to do with the photo. I say it's for my own personal use and a way to hone in on my photographic skills. Sometimes, I promise them a photo, which seems to lighten them up a bit. Still, these remarks dampen my enthusiastic free spirit that just wants to capture everything and when I am in that zone, look out. It's like a wild demon takes over and shoots energy through me head to toe.
Now, pets, pets are a different story entirely. The owners proudly strutted their dogs around, allowing strangers to pet them and get in closer for a cuddly warm embrace. One woman had her german shepherd perform tricks for me, taking snowballs and
tossing them in the air for the dog to catch. There was a dog sled demo going on as well, so several of these beautiful creatures were participating in that. Never once, though, have I had a pet owner ask me "What are you going to do with that photo"? This eases my tension and allows me free rein, and I don't have to feel like a stalker with them. Maybe pet photography is the route to go. I've seen owners treat their pets like children, if not better, so something to think about.
The ice sculptor man was a great photo subject, intent on creating a seal holding a ball on his nose, yet willing to chat with the audience around him. He said he used to be a chef for ten years. (Apparently, many chefs become ice sculptors and vise versa). He has various clients he works for, including chefs. He says he does ice sculptures for them all the time and the chef, if I remember this right, gets the credit. The sculptor seems okay with that, as he gets money for his services. . I am familiar with the "rights" lingo, as this terminology is found in photography too. I have found that photo contests sometimes want exclusive rights to a photo you've created if it becomes a winner. I had a neat image I took of a gorilla family at Brookfield Zoo and the terms were that they'd get exclusive rights to the image if it won. I still wanted to keep and share that image in my own way so I deterred from participating. Perhaps I'm being too clingy with my photos ( I hold onto my art a little too tightly as well) but maybe in time I'll be more willing to let it, and all rights attached, go. Getting it out there into public domain is a good thing.
I think this might be one of the incentives of the man who ice sculpts. His various ice images are found scattered throughout town, with a specific theme for each business that chooses to let him sculpt something for them. This ice clock shown to the left had a moving pendulum, which I thought was just awesome. Sculptor man said he did something via computer technology to get that to happen. Wow, I thought. This guy was so creative with ice. And now the computer age is embracing Mother Nature's ice forms. Technology is certainly here to stay. Such a beautiful artform, nevertheless, and when the sun glints off the ice, striking abstract formations result. It's all a win-win situation. The business or store gets advertising, the iceman gets recognition and allows his creative spirit free rein, and the public comes in for the Fest and other charms that Frankfort offers.
I've often said I have a journalist heart, so if I feel curious enough, I'll ask questions of whoever I am photographing. As the ice sculptor man finished his seal creation on stage, and I noticed the crowds had really dwindled down, I decided to strike up a conversation. I asked him whether he misses his ice sculptures as they melt down, eventually into a puddle of water. He said "No, I can always create more". I loved that statement, so light, so carefree and it resonated with me personally. I think its important to interact with others, because there is always a piece of gold you can take into your own heart. I, too, can let go of my creations without fear to the world, knowing that there is always something new within me to tap into and share.
All in all, it was an interesting day. I got to see a sculptor express his creative spirit in a unique way. Like minds like this stoke my own creative juices, which was evident in my owe picture-taking urges. Wandering around, looking for interesting subject matter to capture, and just striking up conversations here and there, satisfied my restless winter spirit. I continue to find that being creative and pushing that part of me is a learning process that never gets boring. Though I seem to be dreaming more often of sunny beaches and rose gardens, staying in the now and embracing what I can do at present, like the Ice Festival, helped ease those longings.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Dreams Call to Me

"Yellowstone at Sunset"

Today I am feeling the effects of day after day winter. I hibernate, yet dream of sunny days and traveling and adventure. I met someone the other day who said she used to work at the Grand Canyon. That immediately brought back memories of my time spent there serving the many, many tourists who came through to stare at this Natural Wonder. Such a melting pot of personalities it was, yet the quiet of Winter there appealed to my isolated, meditative side when tourists were fewer. All in all, a great experience that rejuvenated my soul. The photo above was actually taken at Geyser Basin, a gem of beauty found at Yellowstone National Park , another incredible place I worked at during those days of hopping, depending on seasonal need, from one National Park to another. I was beginning to get lost in past memories, reflecting on those days gone by. On top of this, a few days ago, my partner started stating out loud his dream to travel, to interview people, to write a book. We had just come back from a poetry gathering where an author had shared his experiences of traveling and gathering information for the compilation of his own book. His dreams had stoked my partner's dreams which had stoked my own dreams. Our energies seemed to connect and kindle the fires burning within each of us. I realize now that sitting isolated at home with my creativity does not always fill my well with possibilities such as this author had discussed and I was grateful I was sitting there, taking in his words. Putting this back onto my own self, I pondered the idea of taking photographs of people, places and events as we traveled around the country. I thought of the Western part of the U.S., from South to North and remembered how dazzled I was by nature's diversity at every corner we turned. And that doesn't even include the beauty of the whole world, either (which my backpacking vagabond self longs for). For many hours thereafter, images and experiences permeated my heart and soul, calling to my dreamer self. My companion contributed to my dreaming reverie this morning, saying, "I can just see you at a gallery, with your paintings all around, and people coming up to you asking about the deeper meanings of each creation". So dream mode I was certainly staying in, with little resistance on y part. I am a dreamer, always have been, always will be and exclaim that proudly to the world now. This is in direct contrast to how I used to feel when my dad would say to me. "You're such a dreamer" and I'd feel my self-worth go down the drain. How would a dreamer amount to anything, is what I took into my own self? I know now that I need to dream, to embrace this vital part of me, to foster the possibilities and then to take action. As I type "action", suddenly that fearful little voice (the ego) jumps out at me, saying sarcastically, "Yeah right, how are you going to do that?"
and immediately reality comes crashing in. Along with doubt, negativity and all other various companions of my ego. Then my heart comes back fighting, saying "Just put it out there, your dreams, they will happen. No hows or whys necessary". Visualize, like the new age, visionary coaches say. The energy you send out will come back tenfold, making everything you want in your life happen. My heart jumped up and down, feeling victorious.
I listen to my heart's voice telling me to write down my dreams, and what I love, and hold them dear to me from now on. And perhaps, someday soon, I will be standing on those shores of Lake Yellowstone taking photos again, at the very least. And the rest, I leave up to the Universe. May all your dreams come true as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Drawing Has Stirred up Some Emotions

"An Issue of Safety"
Pencil and Pen & Ink on Lined Paper

I came across this drawing a few days ago. It was actually drawn, from an image floating around in my head, about three years ago. I had just moved into a new place and was still feeling stress,chaos, and safety issues from the previous year or so. Oh, I'll be honest, much of my life, more like. I looked at the woman staring back at me, her arms tightly clasped around her, and knew it was me. Fear, lack of safety, wanting to hide, all these feelings seemed to pop out of the drawing. It was done in pencil and pen and ink on lined notebook paper, initially to be a casual sketch but emotions and feelings just ripped out of it. My stomach still is a bit queasy as I look at it today, but yet I find it necessary to post it here. I do it in homage to my artistic self. This is who I am, this is how I draw, I am reconnecting to that part of me that I hid during that time in my life. My ego steps in now and I intellectualize, pondering my artistic style. Art critics, for sure, like to label art, categorize it. Though I find that can be stifling and limiting, I do think I have expressionist tendencies. I like to distort reality for an emotional effect. I like to incorporate bold colors, distorted forms that sometimes dissolve and two-dimensional creations without perspective. I think that is why I have suffered, yes suffered, in classes. These kind of qualities will not sit well with those who want technical precision, who have preconceived views of what art should look like. And in art league competitions, where technical proficiency is valued rather highly, the same thing happens. Sure, I think a good healthy competition gets the juices going, but for me, personally, little growth is fostered. Rather, I begin to second-guess my creations, and myself as an artist. And I don't want to do that. I realize that now. I had a butterfly painting chosen to reflect the emergence of the new Joliet Arts District. For a while, that image was on storefront windows, on posters, as part of a logo. Then that it all changed. A new logo was created, a butterfly that had graphic design tendencies, less colorful, more business-oriented. For a while I was hurt, and sat back and licked my wounds. But I did not wallow too long. My butterfly creation had flown to Joliet and a number of people had commented on it. That was enough. The end result was not important, the process of getting it out there was . I was happy my butterfly had had her few months of glory in Joliet. And I continue to be proud of her. I guess what I'm saying is I am happy to be who I am as a creative being and will not compromise my style for the sake of society and their opinions of what art is supposed to be.
So I am glad I did not throw this drawing away. People say throw out the old stuff, it gets in the way of making new creations. I beg to differ. This particular drawing has helped me to access my growth over the last few years and made me more determined than ever to share my authentic self now. I feel safer and more secure within myself, which will allow me to create more genuinely. Maybe I"ll make a new drawing, with my arms flung high to the sky. I'm sure feeling that way right now, and it feels good.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Where have all the Wildlife Gone?

"Great Blue Heron"

One of my favorite nature places is Lake Katherine Preserve in Palos Heights. You can walk around a small lake, take photographs if you're so inclined or just sit on one of many benches scattered throughout and meditate on nature's beauty. There's even a manmade falls nearby that is quite beautiful. The water rushing over the rocks is very soothing. I used to love going there during each of the four seasons. Different flowers and different creatures offered a dizzying variety of sights to dazzle my eyes. Yet, it's not really all that remote. Nearby condominiums flank one side of the lake, making it rather urban in a sense. I've noticed in the last few years that the workers at the preserve are trimming and cutting back on the foliage. Perhaps this is to allow new growth to occur, but I rather think it's due to the safety of the visitors who come there. More open land deters crime. It also deters the creatures who once made this haven their home. I used to see a beautiful great blue heron walking around the lake's edge, dipping his long neck into water for succulent fish. It was so much fun to stalk him, trying not to rustle the brush as I moved closer for a better photo. A family of swans was a delight to behold a few years back. I photographed the growth of the babies for much of the year. Then the babies grew up and flew away, never to return. Turtles, muskrats, fish, ducks, geese, snakes, frogs and a variety of birds too numerous to mention here also dominated the landscape. I don't see that kind of wildlife anymore, at least not in that quantity. Now busloads of children are carted in, and led around to see what a nature preserve looks like. A tractor moves quickly around the lake's landscape, trampling brush, killing snakes and scattering the featured creatures. The noises that fill the air are distracting for someone just looking for solitude. As I reflect on this now, I am thankful for the photos I have taken to remember those days past, not realizing that I might never see these special wonders again.
I wish these places would make up their minds about what they want the preserve to be. A wildlife preserve, a park, a zoo, or just another walking path like all the rest. I, for one, was willing to risk my life in nature's wild brush to bond with the exquisite treasures that resided there. I choose, though, not to linger too long on what once was, mourning its passing. For too much pondering on past and future thoughts make the now slip through my fingers. Other opportunities await me, and exploration beckons to me every minute of the day.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dreams to Hold Onto

"Dreams to Hold Onto"
Watercolor and Pen & Ink

She dreams of change
beyond her daydreams
where thoughts are fleeting
and full of folly

Staring out school windows,
as a child,
longing for fantasies
to drape around her
and pull her near,
blinding her senses,
snuffing out reality

light beams peer into her eyes,
teasing, lingering
and then melting away
through fleeting fingers,
only a memory remains

So much more she grasps now,
what she wants, she holds onto
the possibilities
become truth,
the denials drained
into depths no longer needed

Her purple robes
flutter in the winds,
light as a feather, she is
and her fluttering heart
she feels pounding
beneath her

She has dreamed
of this day
and dancing on
feet so detached
from earthly holds
Fulfillment fills her up

And dreams once lost
have returned to
reside within her
no longer will they depart
no longer will tears be shed

For her heart holds them
tightly, dare she
ask this day to never end,
she does dare, and dances
through the night, and the
stars serenade her.